Recipe: warm lentil salad with sausage
Jeremy and I have been trying to wake up earlier in the mornings. We both get a lot done in the early hours when fewer people are awake to interrupt a good work flow. This requires getting to bed earlier. That would be the logical thing to do… except I am also very productive at night. What ends up happening (for me, anyway) is that I stay up working late and wake up early. Despite how much I loathe sleep, after a few days of this wacky schedule I become tired and irate and my head hurts.
I’m tired and irate and my head hurts.
Okay, I’m tired and my head hurts, but I am in rather good spirits. Apparently, I just registered for BlogHer Food 2010. I can’t WAIT to see what they will be serving for lunch! You will most certainly hear all about lunch and my wacky hijinx come October…
happily, i paused for a moment to shoot this lovely sight
Let’s get to the recipe – chop chop! I bought some French lentils about a year ago because they were so pretty. I had never cooked with French lentils before, but their beautiful mottled greens and browns and blacks shouted at me from the bulk section of Whole Foods, “Scoop us! Bag us! Take us home!”
dried du puy lentils or french lentils
thyme, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves
Lentils are my friends. You see, not only do I love to eat them, but I love to prepare them because they don’t get all wigged out at high elevations. Each time I’ve tried cooking with dried beans up here, the texture is wrong and so is the relationship with our GI tracts. I know the solution would be to get a pressure cooker, but I can’t think about a pressure cooker right now because I’m cranky from lack of sleep. Besides, this is forcing me to explore more lentil recipes.
ready to simmer the lentils
diced sausage and drained lentils
I found this recipe purely by accident. I was re-stacking my Fine Cooking magazines to make some room on a shelf when several issues went sliding onto the floor. What a mess. As I gathered them up I saw a recipe on the back cover. Warm lentil salad. That sounded fantastic. I know I saw that recipe back in 2007 and I know lentils meant little to me then. It’s good to revisit those old archives because my tastes change over time and things I didn’t think twice about a few years ago really catch my attention today.
scallions and parsley
My version of the salad is slightly simpler only because I didn’t want to be bothered with opening a bottle of wine. Not to mention, my mouth watered at the thought of browning the sausage and all of that great flavor getting mixed into the salad rather than simmering away. I’m sure the original recipe is great too. I’m sure of it.
whisk the vinaigrette
toss the lentils, dressing, and sausage together
We thoroughly enjoy our salads in this house, but we don’t eat warm salads too often. That will have to change starting with this lentil salad because the texture of the little lentils giving way under my teeth makes me want to laugh. It’s FUN to eat. Jeremy compared it to munching on a mouthful of mini m&m’s. I’m not sure when he ate a whole mouthful of mini m&m’s (ewww!), but I assure you that the salad is WAY better than that. The flavor has a fresh bite from the greens, a tang from the dressing, this delightful salty-smokey accent courtesy of the sausage, and that mellow earthiness you get from the lentils. Make a double batch because it will disappear quickly.
finish it off with the scallions and parsley
hey folks, it’s time to eat
Warm French Lentil Salad with Smoked Sausage
modified (some would say butchered) from Fine Cooking issue #84
1 1/2 cups (10 oz.) French lentils (also known as du Puy lentils)
3 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 tsp black peppercorns, whole
1 small onion, peeled
1 small carrot, peeled and split lengthwise (forgot to do that)
8 oz. smoked sausage (kielbasa works)
1 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth (I omitted this – too lazy to open a bottle)
2 1/2 tbsps red wine vinegar, more as needed
2 tsps Dijon mustard
3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsps walnut oil (didn’t have this on hand, so I used olive oil)
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup scallions, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
Pick over and rinse lentils. Stuff the thyme, bay leaves, garlic, and peppercorns in a pouch of cheesecloth or some little spice bag. Place lentils in a 3- or 4-quart saucepan with the sachet of seasonings, the onion, and carrot. Fill with cold water until the lentils are covered by about two inches of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer uncovered for about 30-40 minutes. Add more water as needed. So the recipe says to place the sausage in a pan and cover with wine and enough water by about 1/2 inch and simmer it on low heat for about 15-20 minutes. [I didn’t do that because I’m a bum. Instead, I cut up the sausage and browned it in a pan. Hey, make it your own, I say!] In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 tablespoons of the vinegar with the mustard and a dash of salt. Then pour the olive oil and walnut oil (I just had olive oil) in a slow and steady stream, whisking to incorporate into the vinegar and mustard. Season to taste with salt. Drain the lentils and discard the pouch, carrot, and onion. Place the lentils in a large bowl and toss with a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of vinegar. If you simmered the sausage then drain it and slice it into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Add the sausage and vinaigrette to the lentils, tossing to coat. Stir in the parsley and scallions, then season to taste with black pepper, salt, and vinegar. Serve warm. Serves 4-6.